Youth club officially wound up

Coun Rob Crute pictured opposite Blackhall Youth Club.

Coun Rob Crute pictured opposite Blackhall Youth Club.

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A YOUTH centre has officially closed – but there is still hope for provision of activities for a village’s young people.

Blackhall Youth Centre, in East Street, is being formally wound up by Durham County Council after it stood empty for months in a poor state.

Coun Rob Crute, who represents Blackhall, Hesleden, Station Town and Hutton Henry on Durham County Council, said it was a “sad day” for the centre.

But he added that he has asked the council for any money coming from the closure of the site to be invested in the village for future youth provision.

The councillor said: “It was in a dreadful condition and the heating had gone.

“But I hope once the youth club is sold off, the capital from the disposal of the site will be used to put something else on in the community.”

The council say the estimated cost of urgent and essential repairs to make the centre safe and re-open would have been £301,000 over the next two years. But this would only have been for short-term opening.

They say it would cost an additional £650,000 to bring the building up to an acceptable standard.

Last month the centre’s management committee decided the centre, which dates back to the mid-1960s, should close.

There were four staff working at the centre, who all took early retirement or voluntary redundancy.

Coun Crute added: “It’s a sad day and in its heyday it was getting a lot of people in.

“But recently it’s been very poorly attended.”

However, he added that since the impending closure was announced in April, a new youth drop-in session had opened at the pavilion in the village’s Welfare Park.

Youth workers from Groundwork North East work with youngsters to provide activities and Coun Crute said between 30 and 40 young people attend every Wednesday.

Paul Hebron, the county council’s positive activities manager, said: “Blackhall Youth Centre requires a significant amount of work in order to make it safe and allow it to reopen.

“After considering the low level of attendance at the centre and the limited outcomes we were able to achieve, it was decided that it was not viable carry out the costly work required.

“However, we continue to work with young people in the Blackhall area youth workers running two outreach sessions a week.

“We are also looking into the possibility of identifying an alternative meeting place for young people in the village.”